What drives collectors to select certain items to accumulate, study and covet would make an interesting topic for a psychology thesis. Over the years I’ve certainly attempted to unearth the reasons for my own collecting passions, one of which has been for the Webley Wilkinson revolver (or as some term it, the Wilkinson Webley). And it was fairly easy to determine from whence this interest came.
Sold by Wilkinson Sword at its London showroom, the Webley Wilkinson and other Wilkinson models were semi-custom revolvers designed for the gentleman officer outfitting himself for active service. The revolvers included extra mechanical touches and were more highly finished than standard Webley revolvers for sale (possibly at the Army & Navy Cooperative Society, Ltd.) at the time. It is certain that at least a few Webley Wilkinson revolvers were ordered through the Army & Navy CSL, conceivably for officers serving in India, where there were A&N stores. Officers, then, had to furnish their own sidearms, so their choices were based on budget concerns and preference.
Special Wilkinson revolvers came with an escutcheon in the grips on which a family crest or initials could be engraved. Officers often had their names engraved on their revolvers as well, many of which were kept in fine leather or wood cases. Both blued and nickeled revolvers were available, the latter often for officers who expected to serve in the tropics, where corrosion would be more of a problem. Blued Webley Wilkinsons were known for their beautiful finish—an almost black color that some call “high blue.” The hammer, trigger and barrel levers were in bright steel.
Back to my initial question, though: Why do I like Webley Wilkinson revolvers so much? In simplest terms, I think I like to picture myself as a Victorian officer walking into Wilkinson’s showroom to outfit myself with sword, revolver and accouterments. I think it is telling that the first Webley Wilkinson revolver (and I’ll use “Webley Wilkinson” as a general term from this point forward) I acquired had belonged to an officer in the Highland Light Infantry. Quite a few of my ancestors had served in Scottish regiments, mostly the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, so a Webley Wilkinson with Scottish provenance had special appeal. After the first one, however, the collecting bug just bit me…
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